Roger Joseph Boskovich – Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Italian scientist
Roger Joseph Boskovich is a famous physicist, astronomer, optician, mathematician, philosopher, poet, theologian and diplomat.
He was born in Dubrovnik on May 18, 1711 as the sixth son and the eighth child in the family. His family from his father’s side comes from the village of Orahov Dol from Herzegovina. His father was Nikola Boskovich, a famous merchant of Serbian Orthodox descent. He studied at the School of the Jesuit College in Dubrovnik.
His father died when Roger was 10 years old, and in 1725 he went to Rome as a fourteen-year-old with his professors changing his name and continuing his education. He spent three years studying philosophy, mathematics and physics, which enabled him to express his talent for natural sciences. In Rome, he studied both logic, Aristotle’s physics and metaphysics, euclidean mathematics, some astronomy and ethics. His tendency towards mathematics and physics was evident.
He published the first scientific discussion “On the Solar Fragments” in 1736, and then debates from optics, astronomy and trigonometry. Roger Boskovich is, among other things, the creator of a single law of force, which presupposes that there is not only attraction (Newton’s law), but also refusal in alternating change at small distances between bodies. He considered that the basic elements of matter matter were dimensionless and that they were the source of force.
He showed his law of attractive-defensive forces Boskovich by a well-known curve, called Boskovich’s roof. His theory offered a new notion of reality and gave a new image of the world. A German philosopher said that Boskovich’s theory was the greatest triumph over the senses that had been achieved on Earth so far.
Time and space, in contrast to Newton, was considered relative, and can rightly be called the forerunner of Alberto Einstein. He found two geometric methods for determining the elements of the Sun’s rotation based on the observation of the position of the three bodies, then calculated the dimensions and exterior of the Earth. He discovered the geometric model of calculating the comet path. He outlined his mathematical talent very early when, as a student, he published his first scientific contribution to trigonometry. He published a large number of papers from binary trigonometry and statistical methods in physics. He matched his mathematical studies and results in several books, textbooks and a lot of scientific papers. In 1753 he discovered the lack of atmosphere on the Moon.
After completing his studies, Boskovic was a teacher at the lower institutes of the Jesuit College, continuing his studies of theology. When his former professor Borgondio received his post in 1740, Boskovic took over the mathematics curriculum at the Roman College. Upon completing the theology theology was directed to the priest, but he remained at the Collegium to teach mathematics and to dedicate himself to scientific work.
Although his education Bošković gained wide knowledge of science, philosophy and theology, in essence, his scientific work was always turned to practical goals. In 1742, he worked in a team of mathematicians who were involved in the renovation of the dome of the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome, and a year later studied the strength of the apse in the same church. His advice was sought by Maria Theresa regarding the statistical problems of the Vienna court library. He founded the Astronomical Observatory in Brera, near Milan.
Boskovich dealt with various problems, with great success, which shows the universality of his expertise both as a pedagogue and as a scientist. He measured the length of the meridian between Rome and Rimini, examining gravity in various places. He created a new map of the papal state. He published five books on these research. He made a number of different instruments that serve precise geodesic measurements.
He went to Vienna as a geodesy expert, where he worked as an adviser in the dispute over border waters between Luce and Tuscany. When he resolved the dispute in favor of Luce, he received the prize from them as a “noble title.” In 1758, he completed the writing of the Theory of Natural Philosophy in Vienna.
Regardless of the fact that in his work Boskovich clearly emphasized the character of spirit and matter as the basis of nature, his theory was not in accordance with the teaching of the church, and especially was not acceptable to the Jesuits.
Boskovich was a frequent guest of the Academy of Sciences in Paris, where he spent six months. He became a correspondent member of the Academy of Sciences. After his stay in Paris, he went to England where he worked various geodesic measurements. In England, he was elected a member of the Royal Society.
It is less known that Boskovich, along with science and philosophy, contributed to some other areas of life. The talent for literature was inherited from his grandfather on his mother’s side. He wrote poems in Latin, but also in Serbian. In 1760, in London, he published the song “Sunrise and Moon” in Latin, which was dedicated to the Royal Society. This singing became famous among European poets, as he was already known among European scholars.
At the invitation of his friend Boskovich moved to Paris, where he gets a high-paid position as director of marine optics, and then he received French citizenship.
He died on February 13, 1787, in Milan, and was buried in the church of St. Maria Padona.